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THE FUTURE OF RETAIL as predicted by SFD Design


we look within the retail industry we seem to be told that the high street is evolving. Since the invent and the subsequent boom of online shopping we have all been patiently poised to see the face of the high street change. In the US in 2012 over 65% of all clothing purchases were made online and e-commerce is now one of the fastest growing markets in Europe. Online shopping is here to stay and it is fiercely highlighting the retailers who can’t cut it, be it because of the economic downturn or the change in our shopping habits we have seen numerous companies shut-up shop.

Research Facts & Figures

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Furthermore we are living through a technological boom. New electronic gadgets are getting smaller and smarter at an increasing rate. Almost 50% of all UK residents have a smartphone and over the last couple of years purchases made through smartphones has practically doubled with fashion having seen the biggest growth in mobile orders.

Comp Shop & Case Studies

New Technologies Examples & Ideas Final Word


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YESTERDAY A lot of research and studies have been undertaken since the boom in e-commerce in to our shopping habbits. These infographics summarise the change in our shopping habbits in a clean and easy-to-understand manner.

RESEARCH SUGGESTS ONLINE ACTIVITY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA SUCH AS TWITTER ENCOURAGES INCREASED ONLINE PURCHASES. ‘Social media has turned everyone into a critic and, weirdly enough, we actually listen to each other. A recent survey found that almost eight out of 10 people trust peer reviews over any other source of information.’ Ideo Offers 4 Strategies For Reinventing The Retail Experience written by Suzanne Labarre

‘An ongoing study by IPG Media Lab reveals that

shopper satisfaction at retail stores is declining up to 15% per year.’ Four Keys to Surviving the Future of Retail written by Alexander Grünsteidl of Method

TODAY So how is the face of the high street looking right now? We are eager to know what is in store for the retail industry and although there is much talk about it changing we are yet to see any technology penetrate the high street with any real success. We often see retailers bring in technology in to their stores but usually with little finesse or purpose. Understanding what isn’t working can be as useful as understanding what is. With this in mind we took to the busiest shopping street in Europe, Oxford Street in London’s West End to see what retailers were doing to stay relevant.

While visiting the stores on Oxford Street it became apparent that a lot of retailers provided free WiFi for their customers. Believing they were doing this to encourage customers to linger and to spend more time within the store was soon highlighted as a customer misconception. New analytical tools, such as Euclid, are able to track people though the store and between branches via the customers smartphone connection to the retailers free WiFi. The insight that this can provide retailers is astonishing and includes information such as walkby traffic, window conversions, visit duration, repeat visitor ratio, visit frequency, customer engagement and bounce rates.

‘Market research s h o w s that the majority of consumers visit a store before they purchase a product, even if they ultimately buy it o n l i n e .’

Facilitating impulse buys, up selling & cross selling The new retail spaces of today are no longer simply about making customers buy what they want, they need to do more. These spaces need to take advantage of having the customer in the store and provide them with further purchasing opportunities.

Possibly the retailer who executes the facilitating of the impulse buy, up sell and cross sell most successfully has be Topshop/Topman, who within their Oxford Circus store have a beauty salon, tattoo parlour, mens barbour, cafe and food stalls under the one roof.

A store which is essentially a fashion retailer does not just sell clothes but sells everything that’s required to live the lifestyle. In store is everything from music, books and art through to furniture, skateboards and bikes.

Building brand loyality

By making the shop a destanation spot - a place in which the customer can enjoy them selves be it with music, books or food - the retailer gets to engrose the customer within their brand & lifestyle values.

Encouraging gamers to come and play the games they love give them a reason to visit the store and altimately buy what they like.

Creating a place in the heart of Londons West End in which its customers can hang-out and relax will help customer build a loyality to the brand as well as encourage more higher foot fall through the door.

A true master of building brand loyalty. A visit to NikeTown sells you more than a product, it invites you to join an instatution. Within the store you are reminded that among the members of this club are the likes of Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Manchester United FC.

A friendly gesture to get people to spend more time in the store or just a incidenatl convenience to having customer analytics installed in the store?

Extending customer relations Retailers can enhance their brands and communicate the lifestyles they promote throught the organisation of events. Having customers think of retailers not just as a shop but a group or community which they want to be part of will generate a better understanding from the customer as well as generate revenue from foot traffic.

Creating an event out of the opening of a new store branch not only helps promote the brand but encourages people to enter the brick & mortar incarnation of the store helping strengthen the customer-brand relationship.

Within the Oxford Circus NikeTown there are adverts for their weekly fitness classes as well as their online communities in which customers can compete with each other. Such activities give Nike the extremely valuable ‘face time’ with time with its customers.

Although there isn’t a Tesco on Oxford Street and although the article is about a Tesco branch 20 miles north of London we felt this story really illustrated how even the big retailers are evolving in order to keep people visiting them instore and provide them with that invaluable face-time.

Engaging the customer As another attempt to strengthen the retailer-customer relationship, stores want customers to talk to them and to stay in touch. Retailers are using a number of tactics to encourage this.


CONVERTING ONLINE TO OFFLINE This is the only retailer offering this ‘drive-through’ shopping experience and reports on it’s success are yet to surface however it does appear to be a clever way of getting online customers to come to the store. Once in the store the customer can then be subjected to the tempations of the impulse buy and the cross sell.

OFFLINE Although the majority communication between the customer and the store are though social media, there are a few examples of retailers wanting to get involved with the customers purchases in-store.

Using Technology

No retailers appear to be using technology with any real success in the sense that it doesnt enhance the experience of visiting the store much more than a printed graphic. However some of the large display screens used by Primark instore and in the window can’t fail but to grab your attention as you wonder past.

Digital displays dispersed between mirrors Lenticular Graphics

Burberry Store Regent St

A store designed with technology as an integral part of the space. A giant digital display steals your attention as you walk in to the main hall and as you wonder along the balcony level you are exposed to a column of lenticular lips blowing you a kiss from behind a VM hotspot as well as a disorientating concertinaed array of mirrored digital display panels that merge your reflection with video content. It is a beautifly curated space however this is just the tip of the iceburg ‘ “Walking into our store is just like walking into our website” says Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts and she’s certainly right. All the clothes in the store are embedded with digital tags which you can scan into your smartphone, tablet or one of the many versatile mirror screens placed around the store. Footage will then play on screen showcasing the making of your desired item and its journey down the London Fashion Week runway. Once ready to make your purchase, you don’t go to some dated old till-point. One of the ridiculously attractive and polished sales assistants will present you with an iPad and card-machine to complete your shopping experience in the most amazingly modern way possible.’

Large scale digital screen

Digital display incorporated within a mirrored concertinaed wall Lenticular graphics

Sales assistants equipped with iPads

Kate Spade Stores

& their ipad management system Kate Spade is a small brand that on deciding to design and open a new store decided, to be relevant to their tech sazzy customer base, to use Ipads to replace the traditional paper signage. ‘Its most straightforward use is to tell the basic facts about each product--for example, the name and price. If the customer wants to delve deeper, the iPads are able to tell stories about how the product was made, what the design inspiration was, and how you can use it or wear it.’ ‘The custom-built CMS also allows the central marketing department in NYC to distribute consistent branded content globally, while allowing local employees to make nuanced changes based on real-time insights. The combination of print cost savings, local and real-time flexibility, and global branding control add up to an industry-leading signage innovation.’

Hointer Concept Store that doesn’t require staff As the first of its kind, it is refreshing to see a retailer experimenting with a new technology. The store saves on space by simply displaying one of each of their products. Each one is tagged with a QR code, the customer simply scans the tag with their phone and selects which size they want. It is added to a virtual basket and with the click of a button the items within the basket will be automatically delivered to a fitting room. The customer pays by card and leaves with the chosen products. No queues, no hunting the shelves for your size and no need to cart all the items you want to try on round the store with you while you continue to shop. Could this be the future?

3D Printing

TOMORROWs Technologies ‘The good news is that there are technologies available today that enable retailers to integrate the metaphors of the online and mobile world into the in-store environment to deliver a better and more cohesive experience for their customers. These technologies will transform the retail industry, but not if they are used as “trophyware”. Truly innovative applications of technology create value across touch points, from the supply chain, to marketing, analytics, and point-of-sale, to the overall customer experience.’ Control Group 2013 Retail Technology Survey

Despite 3D printing stories appearing in the news and on blogs almost daily for the last year we are yet to see any signs of it infiltrate in to our modern day lives. However as designers start to design items specifically for this type of manufacture, websites, stores and companies have started to emerge that are selling the 3D files, printed objects and the printers themselves. In a time when the consumer is no longer satisfied with mass produced good but yearns for something more personal, more bespoke but without the exagerated price tag that usually comes with custom designed items - 3D printing is due to make it’s big entrance on to our high streets in the near future.

BELOW 3D Printed eyewear range by Ron Arad for PQ brand

iMakr is due to join Makies in Selfridges this Autumn/Winter as they recently anounced they will be opening a popup shop in Londons second largest department store for the run up to Christmas.

RIGHT Melinda Looi designed a fully 3D printed collection for a fashion show earlier this year

BELOW Stratasys Connex 3D Printed Shoes designed by Rem D Koolhaas for Iris van Herpen Paris Fashion Week

Makies is an online company that allows its customers to design their own dolls, promoted as the worlds first 3D printed toy, it is due to set up shop in the prime location that is Selfridges.

My Mini Factory & iMakr are just two examples of companies who are using the technology as an integral part of their business.

Wireless Interactivity RFID & NFC

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. Near field communication (NFC) is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity, usually no more than a few inches.

Due to recent advances in this technology new uses of it within retail have become more viable. Opportunites such as having products tagged and triggering either analytical systems or driving digital media to promote cross or up-selling when the item is picked up are now very possible ideas.

Retailers are aware that the purchasing process within shops needs to become more efficient. Self service machines are quite clumsy and not fool proof however with the invention of NFC and wiress payments, stores are now being offered the tools to almost completely remove the hassle from the process.

Augmented Reality

By defenition AR is limited to electronic devices and most suited to visualising items that aren’t available. This therefore renders it almost pointless within current retail outlets, New Look have attempted using it as part of a promo campagne but with little success however Lego stores used it to good effect to display the assembled contents of its packaged lego sets as shown below. Although, in the future, if 3D printing becomes a common sight in retail then this method of visualising items that may not yet exsist could become more relavent to retail.

The happier you make your existing customers, the more likely they’ll spread the gospel, and the better off your brand. Ideo Offers 4 Strategies For Reinventing The Retail Experience written by Suzanne Labarre



Technology is currently primarily best suited to simplifing and improving efficiency of the running of the retail space. Don’t use technology as a statement piece. Social media such as twitter is best suited to customer support, used for answering queries & complaints rather than pushing the latest campagnes.

In the future we may see un-manned shops, shops which are factories, factories that produce one-off items are there purely for our entertainment. These retailers may become our best friends, who know who we are people who share a lifestyle and the same values. As the concept of a global community grows, fashions ma

When talking about retail stores today, what’s no longer important is whether the customer spends money now or later, instore or online. What does matter is that the customer feels a loyalty and a connection to the brand.

T h e experience and the customer satisfaction is k e y. As a company that works in supporting the retail industry we understand that we need to change with our clients. Should you like to know what ideas we have regarding the future of retail please get in touch and we would

love to be involved in making these future spaces become a reality. To see some of the new technology we’ve been researching come and visit us on Charlotte St in London’s West End @ theSpace.

for customers, shops that dont sell anything, shops that sell everything, shops which aren’t shops, they and when to expect us. These retailers may stop being companies and become communitites, groups of ay become global and cultures entwined. The high street is staying but it is most definately changing.

SFD Sunningdale, The Belfry, Watford, Herts, United Kingdom WD24 4WH +44 (0)1923 232425 |

SFD ASIA 1909, Building A, Gateway Plaza No.325 Tianyao Qiao Road Xujiahui Xuhui District, Shanghai, China +86 13661 685 824 |


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